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I couldn’t help but squeeze my keys. I felt the smooth rubber of my Gravedigger monster truck keychain in my pocket. The receptionist closed the window and went back to typing.
It was too quiet in here.
On the other side of the waiting room was a man in a Rutgers football shirt. He reached to grab a magazine. Oh, please pick Home Decor. I know you want to. I won’t judge, I promise. But at the last second he took some car magazine that even I had never heard of. On the cover a girl in a red bikini was lying across a car with a perfect smile that would make most people feel happy just looking at it.
I felt like I was staring at one of my family photos, the kind my aunt takes at birthday parties and holidays. It takes ten minutes to snap one picture because my little cousins either don’t smile or don’t “smile nice” at the camera. Or someone blinks. Yet somehow, months later, that picture is on their fridge. Those photos are the product of someone being pushy and trying to fool themselves that this will be a great “memory saver.” But are the people in the pictures really happy? I for one am normally pissed by the time the picture is taken. I’d rather look at people who are pissed than see fake smiles. But then again, I can’t say that to my aunt. Just like bikini girl can’t say that to her boss.
My dad was reading the newspaper and my mom was staring at the television, watching the only thing that’s on these days, politics. I was the only one left in the room, holding onto my keys so tight that I thought they would make permanent dents in my fingers. Not that anyone could tell with this puffy coat on.
Man, it’s hot in here!
“Are you nervous?” Mom asked.
“Why don’t you take off your coat then?”
I unzipped my coat and waited until the last possible second to let go of my keys. We decided ahead of time that my dad would come in with me. The doctors want a parent there in case the kid flips out. I couldn’t blame them because I wasn’t promising I’d be an angel.
My name was called and I raised my hand thinking I was back at school. The nurse smiled. “We’re ready for you. Follow me.”
“So, all four wisdom teeth are coming out, correct?” she asked.
“Yep, just four.”
“Well, just sit in the chair and I’m going to hook you up to a machine that will take your blood pressure every five minutes. It will also monitor your heart rate.”
“All right.” I rolled up my sleeve and she put the wrap around my arm. It immediately got really tight. Then she put clips on each of my wrists and one on my middle finger. They were cold and wet from the antibacterial spray.
I sat there in silence for five minutes as I tried to see if any drug deals were going on in the alley outside the window. What a sight that would be. Did I mention I wasn’t in the nicest town? I was lucky I didn’t get jumped walking in.
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP
Oh my god! I’m going to die!
“Uncross your legs and take a deep breath, sweetie,” the nurse said. I did as I was told.
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP
“See, all better.” She walked out and the wrap got tight again.
“This thing is pissing me off.” I looked at my dad who just started laughing.
“You won’t even feel it when they start.”
“I better not hear that damn machine either.” I rolled my eyes. “I’m bored.”
“So, is that what you kids are calling scared these days?” He looked out the window before I could catch his eye.
“So, how are we doing today?” the doctor said as he came in.
“Fine.” What else is there to say?
“Okay. I’m going to give her the anesthesia and laughing gas. Once she’s down you can leave,” he told my dad.
“Down? What am I, a dog?”
“Ha, ha. I meant once you’re asleep – well, actually, you won’t be asleep. You can talk to us at any moment, but you’ll be …”
“Too high?” He smiled and nodded. “I thought so, and don’t worry, I’m a pro at this.”
“You mean you’ve had anesthesia before?”
“About three times. And I apologize in advance for anything I might say.” Everyone gave me a confused look. They’d find out soon enough.
The last time I was under anesthesia, I had a really cute doctor. Let me just say in my defense that he looked like Johnny Depp, and he wasn’t old either. So after the surgery, he came in and asked how I was feeling and I told him I was fine. And that’s when he said, “Well, you were doing fine during the procedure too. It’s nice to know my patients think I’m a sexy man.” I thought my heart stopped beating when he said that. I couldn’t look him in the eyes. “Don’t be ashamed. You’re not the first patient who’s said that.”
But I was in luck: this doctor wasn’t hot. So this time around, I’d probably be okay.
The doctor noticed my dad’s shirt. It had the Raminator monster truck on it. “Raminator? I’ve never heard of him before,” the doctor said.
“He was at Monster Truck Weekend in Wildwood this fall. He came in second,” I added. I felt everyone’s eyes on me.
“You saw a monster truck show?”
“Yeah.” Who hasn’t?
“I take my boys all the time. But I’ve never seen the Raminator. I’m going to look for him next time. Have you ever seen the monster robot? It breaks the cars in half right before–”
“It sets them on fire! It’s awesome, isn’t it?” I said.
“Oh yeah, and the flames are so hot you can feel them from the seats. Wow, so you’ve been to a lot of shows?”
“I guess you could say that. I have some posters in my room. Some of the drivers signed them too.” I tried to picture my first monster truck show. I couldn’t see it without closing my eyes. But I kept them open. If I closed my eyes, who knew what they’d do.
“Wow.” The doctor looked from my dad to me a couple times.
“I didn’t think a girl your age would be interested.”
I could have come up with some snotty remark, but he seemed too nice. My dad shot me one of those looks. Plus, I didn’t think it was the smartest idea to piss off a doctor just as he’s about to put me “down.” Who knows – I could end up a dead dog.
Instead I just smiled. Picture perfect. By that time they had found my veins and injected the needle filled with clear liquid. Yipes, could they use a needle that was any bigger?
“You all right, sweetie?” The nurse’s face came into view as she lowered the chair.
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP!
My dad had disappeared from sight and I couldn’t control what I was saying. The beeping kept going faster and faster.
“Where did my dad go?”
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP!
“He’s right here.” She gestured at someone and I felt my dad touch my hand. The machine beeping was still high.
“So,” the doctor said as he came into focus, “who’s your favorite monster truck?”
I thought for a second, trying to recall the name. Everything was blurry. “Well, that’s an easy one. He’s the one who came in first this fall.”
“Oh yeah? And who is that?”
“The best of the best: Gravedigger.” I closed my eyes; green and purple lights started flashing, and I could see a monster truck. The picture I wanted to see finally became clear. Not a fancy picture with fake smiles; just the truth.
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP.